Yesterday I testified as a witness in a criminal trial. Although I have twice served on a jury, I have never testified before, and have never even entered the courthouse here in the Antelope Valley where the crime scene is clearly more nefarious than in Disney-like Marin County.
This trial is about a contractor who made off with our deposit on a gate (and that of other people in our neighborhood) and is being prosecuted for fraud, so it was relatively low-pressure testimony in that it only involved theft and not violent crime.
The entire experience was fascinating. From the moment I walked into the courthouse (it is an amazingly beautiful building for our rinky dink little valley) to the time I walked out, I was enthralled by a world completely different from the one I am accustomed to. I will share some of my observations.
First of all, WHO ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE?! No one I know gets in trouble with the law. No one I know screams on their cell phones in echoing hallways about the pros and cons of accepting plea bargains or whose fault it really is that their kid is on trial. Yet, there were literally hundreds of people in this building who seemed to be totally comfortable with this scene. I am so very sheltered from a larger world that exists outside the church, school and neighborhood where my life takes place. It really made me think.
Second, how did the D.A. have time to make it through college and law school when he is, apparently, only 12 years old? When did I get so old that I reached the point where people around me look too young to be doing what they are doing?
Finally, if the courthouse cafeteria can serve a really delicious tuna melt and soup for $3.25, why do the places across the street charge $7 for a lesser product? If I learned anything yesterday, it was that I'm taking the family to the courthouse cafeteria the next time I want a good meal out.
At any rate, the experience was a nice change from my daily grind and made me truly appreciate the life I am living. I hope and pray my life NEVER revolves around a criminal trial that I am directly involved in. I certainly have a new compassion for those who are in this situation with family members, friends, or as victims.